Bloggers on the Saddam-financed Iraq trip of three anti-war congressmen.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 27 2008 6:16 PM

Dupes of Baghdad

Bloggers are tut-tutting about the revelation that Saddam likely financed a prewar trip to Iraq by three anti-war U.S. congressmen, and they're wondering if Michael Bloomberg will endorse Barack Obama.

Dupes of Baghdad: A man named Muthanna Al-Hanooti was indicted Wednesday for setting up propaganda tours of Saddam-era Iraq for prominent anti-war Democrats in Congress, and profiting from them with oil-for-food contracts. According to the Associated Press, though they are unnamed in the indictment, the likely beneficiaries of Al-Hanooti's travel scheme were Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington state, David Bonior of Michigan, and Mike Thompson of California, all of whom claim they had absolutely no idea who bankrolled their junket.

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Stephen Hayes at the Weekly Standard's Blog asks: "If these Democrats were traveling with at least one person known to have worked on behalf of the Iraqi regime, shouldn't they have known that it was possible the Iraq regime was behind their trip? Did these Democrats even ask those questions? And if not, why not?"

Conservative radio-show host and blogger Debbie Schlussel's been writing about Muthanna Al-Hanooti for six years: "I've also asked why LIFE for Relief and Development, Al-Hanooti's employer and the organization through which he took the three Congressmen to Iraq, has continued to be allowed to remain open for business and to raise money, even though it was well known to FBI agents--and to me--that LIFE was Saddam Hussein's American advertising agency, as well as a financier of Sunni Islamic terrorism against our soldiers and contractors in Iraq and elsewhere where Al-Qaeda, HAMAS, and their satellites operate." Abe Greenwald at Commentary's Contentions writes: "It goes to show just how adept the Iraqi dictator had become at working American officials (and other world leaders) like puppets. But still: three anti-war U.S. Reps were flown to Iraq on Saddam's dime in order to defend his kleptocratic regime. And the anti-war crowd dares to call those of us who supported the invasion naïve?"

Patrick O'Callahan at the Tacoma News Tribune's Inside the Editorial Page says: "McDermott wanted to stop a war that – give him credit – later turned into a disaster. But on the same trip, he was also trying to undo the international sanctions that were keeping Saddam from getting unhindered access to the revenues from Iraq's oil wealth."

The conservative Autonomist argues: "Totalitarian despots know that when it comes to American politicians, they can usually count on leftwing anti-US-war Democrats for sympathy and support. Is it any wonder why some of the world's worst despots, including Osama Bin Laden, express hope that Democrats get elected over Republicans?"

Conservative Washington state blogger Celebrity is slightly more generous: "I'll give McDermott the benefit of the doubt on this one, but it still doesn't make it right after the fact. I'm thinking this could be some good news for McDermott's challenger and ex-anti-war activist, Steve Beren, although personally, I don't think Beren even needs this kind of fodder against McDermott to win."

Read more about the Saddam travel agency.

Obama likes Mike: Barack Obama gave a speech on his economic policy Thursday at Cooper Union in New York, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg introduced him. The pair had had a "mystery breakfast" four months ago, and their latetest meeting fueled speculation about a Bloomberg endorsement, if not a VP slot.

At Comments From Left Field, Kyle E. Moore thinks: "While no endorsement has stood out as being a game breaker, and it would be naive at best to assume that Bloomberg would be the endorsement to change the rules, plucking a high profile figure from Clinton's backyard is hardly anything to sneeze at."

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Hot Air wonders if this means the mayor's a VP possibility: "Obama will need a dynamic, experienced executive as his running mate to convince general-election voters of his substance and ability. Bloomberg has made no secret of his ambitions, and having put aside the presidency, may see a VP run as an entree to something bigger down the road. He could wind up being the economics guru of an Obama administration — and he could potentially keep Hillary voters from defecting to McCain." Marc Ambinder is thinking along the same lines: "[T]he best way to look at an Obama-Bloomberg ticket is by noticing their complimentary traits. Obama isn't much of an administrator or a details guy by his own admission, while Bloomberg is so concerned about Your Health and Welfare that he studies intently the ins and outs of congestion pricing and trans-fats. He's a prime minister-type -- although he brings an outsider's sense of efficiency to the bureaucracy. Let Obama be the vision guy; Bloomberg could be the brass-tacks administrator."

The Jed Report doesn't buy it: "I'd bet pretty heavily against an Obama-Bloomberg pairing. For starters, the main thing that Bloomberg would bring to the table is the same thing that Obama already has: appeal to upper-income Democrats and independents. Geographically, Bloomberg has nothing to offer, and there's no indication that he'd be a great campaigner."

Read more about Obama and Bloomberg.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.

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